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tv   2020  ABC  December 25, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm PST

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♪ >> merry christmas! thank you, everybody! [cheers and applause] your father says, i have a plan to rob a bank. shouldn't your first reaction be, are you crazy? >> i asked my dad, you know, are you the devil here to testimony me? he said, yeah, probably. >> tonight on 20/20, the unbelievable story of a father, who turned his own kids into criminals. the surveillance video, the horrified bank tellers. mug shots instead of family photos. >> he was the muscle with the gun. and i was the money guy. >> 18-year-old daughter in the getaway car. >> it was my family. the loyalty was greater.
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>> his guilty plea. the confession tape that would shock even the police. >> i'll lay it all out. >> and a jailhouse confrontation. how he told his kids to lie to 20/20. >> you clearly told your kids to manipulate us. just like you were manipulating them. >> a brother and sister reunion. >> i don't want you to go. >> you won't believe what our mic picked up, the father with the question you'll all want answered. >> do you ink you're a dad or a devil to these kids? >> tonight a new angel for one of them. and it's one of you. >> i said, this is wrong. she should not be in jail for this. >> bringing the daughter from jail to a new home just in time for the holidays. >> here's your room. make yourself at home. >> a different version of keeping it all in the family. good evening and merry
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christmas. >> tonight we have the story of one young woman abby cat who's celebrating instead with her family instead of locked up at jail. >> someone who originally saw her story here at 20/20 gave abby a holidays. >> we wanted some black pants to wear to church, right? >> on this day bringing 21-year-old abby to live with them. >> it's going to look so pretty when we're done. >> this christmas abby decorates the family tree as she prepares for a holiday without her father and brother who are still behind bars. >> we were very close and had a special friendship.
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>> abby's unusual family story started grabbing headlines more than three years ago. >> that's dad in a mask and son in a fake mustache. >> it was a family affair all right. they were hungry for a fast buck. these three didn't look like the typical jailbirds in the fbi's most wanted list. nope. they looked like they belonged in church group. the balding dad, his pimpled son and the pretty blond sister. the family that stayed together robbed together. have you ever seen anything like this? >> in my 20-plus years in law enforcement, i haven't. a family of bank robbers. >> reporter: if news of daddy's misdeeds bewildered local cops and journalists, it blew away their own family members. >> horrible, horrible, how can i wrap my brain around this? >> the fact is, they pointed guns at people. that's terrifying to me.
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my little nephew, who -- has the sweetest heart has been turned into that. it's just -- it's sad. so sad. >> reporter: how could this have happened? we spent 13 months piecing together this story. talking to every major character. it begins where it ends -- with dad, scott catt. we met the father of this felonious family, here. >> nice to meet you >> nice to meet you. >> reporter: behind two inches of glass at the fort bend county jail in texas -- >> it just -- it -- it's just shocking to me because i've never been in trouble before. >> reporter: that would be the first of many lies scott would tell us, back then we couldn't have known this tale would have more twists than a knotted rope, especially given how catt started life -- with a homemaker mom and dad who worked at the local bank. >> scott, he was so much fun. great sense of humor, always wanted to make us laugh. >> reporter: scott catt fell in love and married his high school sweetheart beth, a champion swimmer. she called him her handsome
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cowboy. >> reporter: he became a structural engineer. and the all-american family settled into a four bedroom house with a front porch tucked into oregon's wine country. >> they both had great jobs. they both had great cars. they had the two kids. they had the dog. they did everything that -- you work so hard to do. >> reporter: scott and beth had everything until beth was diagnosed with breast cancer when daughter abby was just a baby. >> the only memory i have of my mom -- she was on a bright orange stretcher being carried down the stairs, and i remember her face. >> reporter: so your first memory of your mother, your only memory, is one of her being carried away on a stretcher? >> yeah, that's, that's all. but i, i hold onto it maybe as a good thing. >> reporter: because it would be the only thing she had. beth catt would die at the age of 32, leaving behind four-year-old hayden and 2-year-old abby. suddenly, scott catt was a widower, a single dad with toddlers. how did you deal with it personally? >> i didn't deal with it.
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>> reporter: you were in denial? >> completely. i was in denial about -- not needin' help. about grieving. about depression. about my ability to raise them by myself. i started drinkin' heavily. >> while dad was drowning his sorro sorrows, the kids were thriving in the pool. the star swimmers were also decent students and when he was sober their dad was the proud president of the swim club. and the kids idolized him. >> he was my best friend for a long time. he was a whole lot of fun. loved water parks and disneyland almost as much as the kids. >> we're all screaming and yelling, and he went on all of the rides with us. and that's cool. >> reporter: so cool that he was really more a friend than a parent. >> there wasn't really a disciplinarian. there was no one there hounding us to do homework, or keep up our grades. >> i knew it wasn't normal. but to me, it was my normal.
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>> reporter: abby and hayden, by this time young teenagers, soon realized dad was fun, but they could only rely on each other. >> we were very close. my sister's the only consistent thing i've had my whole life, and i'm, i'm the only consistent thing that she's had, too. >> my brother's my best friend. he was basically the only one that was there for me. >> i can just look at her and know what's on her mind, what she's worried about. >> reporter: what scott's kids worried most about their dad's drinking. >> i lied to 'em about it. i told 'em i was gonna quit. and i didn't, but i did do quite a bit behind their back. >> reporter: and some of it in plain sight. there were arrests, there was brawling, disorderly conduct and a new more expensive vice --cocaine, he says. >> i'd say probably three, four grams a week. >> reporter: and the kids often found themselves assuming the roles of parents. >> there was times when on my lunch break i, and in school, that i was going to pay the light bill. i picked up his clothes from the dry cleaner's.
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>> reporter: scott partied away their savings. they went bankrupt, they lost their home, the lights went out. for a fresh start and scott says, a new job, catt traded the oregon greenery for this scenery --an apartment in a houston suburb with a whole lot of banks nearby. >> money was tight, and i was really depressed. he approached me and said, would you be willing to do something more illegal than selling drugs? and i said yes. >> reporter: so you're 18 years old. you need money. your father says, "i have a plan to rob a bank." shouldn't your first reaction be, "are you crazy?" >> looking back on it, i can't believe that wasn't my first reaction. um, to say, "are you, are you insane?" >> reporter: why did you go along with it so easily? >> i had a real struggle, i knew it was wrong, but i was really motivated by the money. the night before the first bank
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i was supposed to rob with him, um, i had kind of a panic attack all night. deciding do i want to go down this path of evil or is that not for me? >> reporter: hayden catt would agree to walk down that path of evil. >> he really wanted my help, in his mind, two people could be much more successful at it. >> reporter: but maybe a third would even be better and there was just one more catt left to choose. scott told hayden to talk his sister into joining their gang. she was a high school senior, just three months shy of graduating. >> my dad sent my brother to ask me. >> reporter: your dad sent your brother to ask you? >> yeah. >> reporter: to rob banks with them? >> yeah, and then the next day my dad just basically laid it all out and, you know, i'll buy you a new car and i'll get you an apartment and -- >> reporter: could you have asked, "well, why don't you just give me the money? why do i have to be a bank robber with you?" >> no, i never asked.
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i mean, it was just, in some way, i was led on, like, this is how i protect them, you know. and these are the only people i have. >> reporter: now son and daughter say this is when they crossed over to the criminal side. a plan was in motion. the mark -- the comerica bank just down the block. >> the morning of, the first bank, i asked my dad, you know, "are you the devil here to tempt me?" and his answer was what really scared me. he said, "yeah, probably. i'm asking you to rob a bank." >> reporter: so he knew full well the world he was bringing you into. >> yeah. the biggest point he made to me was the plan for all the details. >> reporter: the details would be what you've seen in movies. the fake mustaches, fake guns in the hopes of getting real cash, but what the kids were really banking on was beginner's luck. >> i was actually shaking so bad, that the employees grabbed the bag and started throwing money in for me. >> reporter: the family robberies, what could possibly go wrong? when we come back.
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>> reporter: 93 degree texas heat. the catt family wasn't headed to a water park, but to a stick up at a small bank in a strip mall. the man with the gun was scott catt and along for his first heist, his apprentice -- his 20-year-old son, hayden. their disguises? painters masks and white overalls. outside waiting in the getaway car and communicating with the men on walkie- talkie -- 18-year-old daughter, abby. >> once we walked into the bank, then it was on. i was running on so much adrenaline and so, so amped, that i wasn't even really feeling anything. >> two individuals walked into the bank and -- and they ordered the tellers and everyone into the vault. >> he was the muscle with the gun, and i was the money guy. >> reporter: both men are big, over 6'3." their sheer size and the gun enough to terrify customers. but it's the novice bank robber who's quaking in his boots. >> i was actually shaking so
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bad, that the employees grabbed the bag and started throwing money in for me. >> reporter: in hayden's hands, more money than he'd ever dreamed of. how much does $50,000 dollars weigh? >> i'd say about 15 pounds. >> reporter: with their garbage bag full of cash, they sprint out of the bank to the getaway car which has been outfitted with stolen plates. the wheelman, a frightened teenager. >> i was scared. it was just something you just, like, want, want it to be over with. >> reporter: and what was it like driving the getaway car? >> you know, it's hard, because you want to obey traffic laws, but your adrenaline is pumping. >> it was hard, but i had them in my ear. my dad would yell at me and stuff to not drive fast, so i didn't. >> reporter: despite the heckling from her backseat driver dad, the reluctant 18-year-old gets them to their apartment, a half mile away, undetected. the heist had gone off without a hitch -- just like dad had promised. was there a "woo-hoo" moment? >> not until we got home. >> reporter: with their sackful of 50 grand, the spending began.
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cars, motorcycles, booze and drugs. abby's spending -- much more sensible. >> reporter: how did you guys celebrate? >> i didn't. went off on my own and, and just, got my nails done. >> reporter: in fact, the money came so easy and went so fast. within two months they had burned through all their loot. time for another bank job. the first community credit union --just a few miles from the scene of their first crime. before the hit, abby cases the bank. that's her smiling and grabbing brochures from a bank employee. 11 days later, it's the same drill, new disguises. ditching the painters' overalls for saftey vests to blend in with nearby construction. >> they walked into the bank, with orange construction vests on. >> reporter: did you carry a gun in there? >> uh, no. we, we used a little -- a bb gun. >> reporter: but it looked real. >> yeah. i remember a few people's faces, still. >> reporter: what was their reaction? >> um, just, total shock. there's -- >> reporter: -- terror? >> yeah, they were scared,
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terrified. definitely. >> reporter: their take after 2 bank robberies -- over $100,000. but the loot isn't exactly divided up evenly according to the kids. what percentage were they willing to give you? >> 10%. >> reporter: did you feel like 10% was enough? >> yeah, because i'd never even had that much money. >> reporter: for your whole life. >> right. >> reporter: $10,000 essentially. >> it was enough for me. >> reporter: enough to buy a very practical used ford focus and more of those manicures. >> i know the part that i played was wrong. but it was my family, and that, the loyalty was greater at that point, but her father and brother seemed more loyal to the cold hard cash that was coming in. and to blowing it fast -- >> shopping, cars, partying. really nothing to show for it. >> reporter: when the comforts of daily life involve jack daniels, a new chevy tahoe, a harley and a swanky houston apartment even 100 gs can disappear pretty fast. and for the catt family that
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meant one thing. time to go back to work. had you planned another heist before you got busted? >> uh, yeah the morning they picked us up, i think we were going to do one or two more. >> reporter: that day? >> yeah. >> reporter: that's right. the catts had gotten cocky --planning a pair of heists the day before their arrest. >> it got to the point where i thought my father knew what he was doing so well that, there's a risk involved, but the risk was so minimal. >> reporter: but that would prove to be wishful thinking because as we all know, where there are robbers, there are also cops. and the cops were already onto them. on the surveillance video from the latest heist, they picked up a detail that would impress even sherlock holmes. >> the vests looked new. they actually had their creases in them. >> reporter: because they were creased, you figured they were new, and because they were new, they must've been purchased somewhere nearby. >> we were able to tie those two vests back to a local home depot. and then those vests were purchased with a mastercard debit card, that went back to scott. >> reporter: with that mastercard scott catt might as
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well have left his calling card. and there his kids are using it in home depot to buy the gear they were about to use in a bank heist. it was just the break detectives needed. and the catts were in the bag >> when scott was arrested -- the -- the detective that actually made contact with him told him, "well, you're under arrest for armed robbery." and -- scott's initial response to that was, "which one?" >> reporter: they quickly arrested hayden as well, who was up in the apartment. there they found the kind of evidence gumshoes dream of. >> in the apartment -- we found some bank straps, and a bank strap is a little paper strap that wraps around -- a certain quantity of money. usually it's $1,000 denominations, and it identifies whatever bank it is that it comes from. >> reporter: and some of those straps were from a bank in an entirely different state! suddenly they realize catt is no rookie, but a bank bandit with a resume. they now had more than enough evidence to haul both catts in for questioning, and authorities
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were zeroing in on abby, too. >> from my interviews with the employees at the comerica bank, we knew that at least scott was carrying a walkie-talkie. >> reporter: and that those employees at the comerica bank heard a female voice on that walkie-talkie talking to them. >> reporter: police had a pretty good idea who that voice belonged to, and the getaway girl, abby was arrested that day. >> abby called. and she was yelling at me. "i'm in jail and i need $10,000 to get me out of here. get me out of here right now." and i said, "you have to get that money from your father." she says "he's the reason i'm in jail." >> announcer: next, a how to guide for planning a stick em up, the family confession tape chilling detail of how they planned the robberies.
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and coming up later, a first for a texas jail, brother and sister, the hug that broke all the rules when 20/20 returns. maybe a little older? well that one is a 2010, it comes in a few thousand cheaper. ah, ok. and what's the horsepower on that one? one. and on the 2012? also one. they're both just one horse. without engineers, getting around would be very different. yeah, she's a sweet ride. be an engineer. ...talk to my manager, cut you a deal. when you ache and haven't you're not you. tylenol® pm relieves pain and helps you fall fast asleep and stay asleep. we give you a better night. you're a better you all day. tylenol®. are you sure that's gonna work here? yeah, why wouldn't it? i've just never seen anyone pay with their phone here. i think those only work at like,
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>> reporter: police had nabbed scott catt for holding up two banks. he wasn't the only cat in the hot seat. just down the hall in another interrogation room was his 20-year-old son hayden. scott made it clear as he walked in he was ready to come clean. >> you know, i'll lay it all out from the very beginning ti yesterday. >> reporter: investigators were expecting to hear about the two hiests in texas, but they were about to learn that scott catt's secret life of crime dated back to the clinton administration. he didn't even ask for a lawyer before he started spilling the beans. >> first federal savings and
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loan. >> reporter: for this head-scratcher scott actually needed a whiteboard to lay out crimes that began in his home state of oregon, 2,300 miles away. it was like a seminar in bank robbing 101. so this was, this was number one? >> i just went into the tellers, they just grabbed money and threw it in this bag, and i left. so i'd say i got about like 2,500 bucks, roughly. >> we were able to insinuate to him that we knew all about what was going on in oregon when, in all honesty, that wasn't the case. we didn't know about the banks he had robbed in oregon really until the interview. >> reporter: in total, scott would confess to having robbed five banks in oregon before even setting foot in texas. >> i'm surprised he was able to, you know, remain undetected, especially when one of the banks he robbed was in his hometown. you would think that -- someone would have known him.
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>> reporter: in fact, someone did. it was scott catt's own mother. >> i picked up our local newspaper. and on the front page was a picture of a man that robbed our local savings and loan. and that is where his father retired from. >> reporter: he worked at the bank? >> yes, and i looked and i saw this frame of this big man. and i said, "oh, son, if i didn't know better i'd say that was you." and he grabbed the paper from me, and he looked at that. i remember it so vividly. and he said, "yeah, it does kind of." >> reporter: but a mother knows what her son looks like. >> oh, i know. and his hands. i know his hands. scott said, "well, he didn't get very much money." >> reporter: but her son was honing his skills, and you know what they say about practice. with each hit he was banking more and more money.
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>> that one i got close to 30,000 because by then i figured out that there were two cash drawers so i made sure that i got both cash drawers. i selected the bank based on accessibility and escape. how quick can i get in, how quick can i get out? and blend in with the rest of the world. >> he didn't just see a bank and decide to rob it the next day. he would plan for weeks at a time. >> reporter: how many of those did either hayden or abby know about? >> none. >> reporter: this was all just. >> not a one. >> reporter: but growing up in oregon abby and hayden did know about the secrets scott kept by the fistful in his dresser drawer. >> he would keep an envelope full of hundred-dollar bills. i never really thought it that strange that he would keep a couple thousand dollars in cash. >> there was a lot of money in there. and it freaked me out, really. i'd never seen something like that before. >> reporter: that extra cash came in handy when scott got laid off in oregon.
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he says it was a job opportunity that brought him to texas in early 2012. >> i had a nice chunk of money to come to houston. and i blew it partying. >> reporter: the cash tasted so sweet catt craved more, soon blowing off that engineering job in houston to focus on his more lucrative gig. >> i hated the job. it was just a really bad job. i just -- i'll just rob banks. i'm probably better at that anyway. >> reporter: and in his new full-time job he knew more help could mean more money. >> this is where i started to, you know, talk the kids in. hayden wanted to come out here and i said, "well, look, you know, there's a little business proposition i have for you." i talked him into it. >> reporter: a couple doors down the hall hayden would soon fill cops in on his version of that dirty deal. >> that's when he started, you know, going over all the details about how it's done and what he's done in the past, also what to look for in a bank, you know.
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>> like what? >> the getaway is everything. i told him, you know, "i don't think that i can drive after my first one." >> and that's when we talked abby into driving for us. >> we just needed someone who was able to drive slow and steady and abide all the traffic laws and, you know, not look like a bank robber at all. >> right. >> this cute blonde girl is the last thing you would ever -- >> right. >> -- you'd ever look for. >> reporter: but that's exactly who police were looking for, and after getting a call from her dad, abby drove herself into talk to investigators same room six hours later. >> well, i just felt like i need to do what i did to, you know, protect them. >> reporter: abby admitted driving the getaway car but said it was out of blind loyalty to her brother and father, whose writing was still there on the wall. >> my mother died when i was 2. a lot of it has to do with, you
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know -- i have always trusted my dad. it's not okay, obviously. i'm not stupid. but when it's your dad, it's almost like it is. >> i convinced her of it. she trust me completely because she doesn't have anybody else to trust. >> when we come back, how could he ask even more from his kids. evidence 20/20 obtained. a letter asking them to take longer sentencing so he could serve less time. >> it's your handwriting isn't it? >> yeah, it definitely is. you were even trying to m manipulate them behind bars and us.
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>> reporter: the pretty house with the wraparound porch in oregon is now in the catt's rear view mirror. their new home where we met them two years ago is the big house, behind the bars of the fort bend county jail in texas. the family has been held in separate cell blocks. they haven't seen each other in over a year. jailhouse life has taken its toll. scott says there's not enough food and he's lost more than 70 pounds. almost unrecognizable to his own mother when we showed her footage from our interview. >> he's a grown man. he doesn't look the same. oh, i miss him. he's old. i don't wanna see anymore. >> reporter: she's heartbroken by what her son did to the grandchildren she'd help care for after their mother died.
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it's so hard, i wish i knew why he did this. i will never know. >> reporter: when we sat down with scott he wanted us to believe he was a changed man a father who would do anything for his kids. >> if you were offered a deal where you had to spend 25, 30, 40 years in prison in exchange for both of your kids going free, would you take it? >> for them goin' free? absolutely. >> what about life in prison? >> sure. >> scott catt is a manipulator. he is a terrible excuse for a father. no one would be here today, except for the fact that scott catt decided a life of crime was easier than actually going to work every day, and raising his children. >> would you have said you're a good father? >> i thought i was. >> do you think you are now? >> i have serious doubts. i mean i think that we're all sittin' in here right now because of my inability to be a
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parent. >> reporter: in fact, he would put in pen and ink just how terrible he is. he encouraged his kids to do hard time so he could do less of it. we went back to confront him face to face. >> where did you get this? >> reporter: it's -- it's your handwriting, isn't it? >> yeah, definitely is. >> reporter: and it's your letter. >> yes. >> reporter: you told me recently that you would be willing to spend life in prison in order that your kids do not. >> i would. >> reporter: but here you are asking her essentially to do time for you. >> yeah. i was trying to manipulate. i'm tryin' to get something they could live with. >> reporter: everybody? you got your kids involved in this, and you're asking them to do time for you. it says it right here. here it is again, "i do believe that you doing prison time will be good for me. and i know that wasn't an easy
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choice for you." >> and that's what she said to me in the previous letter, that she was willin' to do that. >> reporter: wouldn't most parents, say, try to dissuade their children? say, "please, don't admit to anything. i will take the entire blame here." >> i would love to, but they have so much evidence on everybody that what are we supposed to do? >> reporter: what's interesting is that you can't even leave 'em alone. it seems that you caused so much havoc in their life beforehand that you're even trying to -- you're even trying to manipulate them from behind bars, and us. >> what do you want me to say to that? >> reporter: in another letter scott encourages abby and hayden to exaggerate his addiction in their interviews with us all so that his story would appear more sympathetic. >> tell them i led a dual life involving drugs, alcohol and women and we can bleep ple[ ble
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little with them. ha ha. >> reporter: you clearly told your kids to manipulate us. >> i wanted to get some sort of, wow, some sort of movement on my case, something. >> it was a joke. i was joking around. that's the "ha-ha" part. >> reporter: i don't understand the humor. >> well, that's the humor of somebody that's done a lotta drugs and alcohol. >> reporter: he has done research on what would make them have a better story. so being a drug addict. being an alcoholic, your audience would excuse it and feel sorry for him. >> i did everything wrong. i wish i could take it back. i can't. there are so many regrets. >> reporter: your father says he blames himself. he says he lied to you for many years. do you believe him now? >> am i supposed to believe him all of a sudden? i want to. i always wanted to.
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i believe he feels remorse. but i also believe that he still didn't have my best interests through all of this, through all of the court stuff. >> reporter: does it make you angry? does it make you sad? >> mainly sad that a situation like that was put in front of my face. that's been the hardest to deal with because than doesn't happen to everybody. i feel like now i've lost my mom and now i lost my dad. >> did they forget all the happy times? they don't remember the trip to disneyland? i wish i could have made those
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memories a little more lasting for them. >> reporter: and unbelievably, despite everything, they say they've forgiven their father. >> i forgive him. i have to for myself so i can start to live a normal life. i don't want hate, anger and any of that in my heart. >> if your father were right here, hayden, what would you say to him? >> i'd tell him that i forgive him and that i don't want him to carry this burden around with him for the rest of his life. >> reporter: when we come back an extraordinary television moment, abby and hayden reunite and you won't belief what our mics picked up. mmmmm... mmmm... when you add liquid gold velveeta to rotel tomatoes
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. 20/20 continues with all in the family. >> announcer: matt gutman continues with more of 20/20. >> reporter: they'd committed the crime, now came the punishment. the serial bank robber who disturbingly recruited his own son and daughter to help him during a string of holdups has learned his fate. >> how do you plea to the offense? >> guilty. >> reporter: scott catt's 15 minutes of infamy would stretch into 24 years of prison. >> i mean i'm 51 years old, so -- to me -- that is life. >> reporter: texas penitentiaries, are some of the toughest in the world. where prisoners have allegedly died from a soaring heat index of up to 130 degrees. hayden accepted a deal of ten years, a sizzling cell in texas about a world removed from his suburban childhood in oregon. >> reporter: what do you expect prison life to be like? >> hell. as close to hell on earth as you can get.
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>> how do you plea to the offense? >> guilty. >> reporter: abby plead to guilty and was given a five year sentence. sheriff troy nehls was so disturbed by scott's manipulation of his kids that he's decided to help 19 year old abby. instead of shipping her off to prison for five years he's decided to keep her here at the jail -- where we found her stitching patches onto police uniforms. >> i just feel that she's more of a victim in this, so my goal is to try to educate her, get here where she can get her ged and try to teach her some type of a skills set here to when she gets out can lead a productive life. >> reporter: for abby, all she has left is her brother, hayden. why does that make you sad now? >> because i miss him. i feel like i can't help him and i can't comfort him and that makes me sad. >> reporter: making an unprecedented gesture sheriff troy niehls allowed us to bring
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them together one last time before they served their sentences. brother and sister haven't seen each other in a year since the day of their arrest. hayden is brought in shackled hand and foot. and the jailhouse rules were strict. no touching. the soulmate siblings couldn't seem to help reaching out breaking one last rule. >> hey, abby. are you doing okay? >> yes. >> okay. >> i'm just happy to see you. >> yeah, me too. >> abby, i'm sorry, okay. >> i don't blame you for anything, hayden. just know that i love you forever. >> i love you, too. >> i don't blame you for anything. nothing. >> it's going to be a long time until i see you. >> i know. i love you. >> i love you, too. >> can i give him a hug? >> no, i can't hug you. >> no? >> no. >> reporter: and on the spur of the moment we asked the sheriff for one more act of kindness. >> if you guys want to give each other a hug, the sheriff says it's okay.
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>> reporter: it could be 10 years before abby and hayden could embrace again. listen closely our mics picking up abby's heart pounding. >> it's going to be okay. >> i know. >> it's just going to be a couple years till i can see you. >> i love you. >> i love you too. >> i don't want you to go. >> i know. >> reporter: and gushing out came the grief, and the regret and the anger. >> thank you for the hug i needed it. >> i know. >> i love you.
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>> i love you too. >> okay. >> if you ever start to feel down or anything just start to think about all the good times we had okay? >> okay. >> because that will get you through. >> okay. i love you. >> abby, i love you too. i'll see you soon, okay? >> okay, bye. >> reporter: after 10 minutes of comfort, shackled again. >> reporter: the sibling's love for one another, the one thing their fool-hearted father couldn't destroy. >> reporter: next, an unexpected angel comes forward to help abby. >> i didn't think too much about it until we watched the show. i was just
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sudafed®. open up. . >> announcer: 20/20 returns with more all in the family. once again, matt gutman. >> while her father and brother were sent off to do hard time, abby catt remained at the fort bend county jail. >> i've been here for just over two and a half years. >> reporter: we caught up with her last summer. her life behind bars a far cry from her comfortable suburban life. >> you just adapt to it. >> reporter: she studied for her ged and worked sewing patches and mending pants. >> my love for him is
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unconditional and it tells us that we have to forgive. so i forgive for myself and he's my dad. and i love my dad. i loved my dad before and i love my dad after. and it's just how it is. >> reporter: while she's been incarcerated, abby's had no visitors. [ laughter ]. >> reporter: but on this day, her aunt and grandmother have made the trip from oregon. they haven't seen abby for three years. >> look at you. oh, i love you so much. >> reporter: their visit is also a celebration. >> do you know how lucky you are? >> yes. >> reporter: she just learned she'll be paroled in the next few months. >> you've been given an opportunity that others don't get. you have many angels that love
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you very much. >> see how you -- >> reporter: one of those angels is susie gregory, a married mother of two grown sons. she met abby while volunteering in the jail as a sewing teacher. >> i didn't think too much about it until we watched the 20/20 show. and then i was just really stunned. i was just overcome. i said, this is wrong, this is just wrong. she should not be in jail for this. i just felt like god put me in that sewing room for abby. >> reporter: this past october, abby was released on good behavior under the condition that she remain in texas. >> this is a big day. new beginning. go ahead. all right. >> reporter: waiting for her was susie gregory. >> two years and ten months. [ laughter ]. >> reporter: she's finally free and grateful for susie's
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friendship. >> i guess she just loves me. i don't know. >> reporter: abby's on her way to a house she's never been to, but one she'll call home, the gregorys' place in an affluent houston suburb. >> time to go home. abby, this is your new house. and here's your room. make yourself at home. [ laughter ]. >> cool. thank you. >> reporter: in the last two months with the gregorys' assistance, abby got a job at a fast food restaurant and is slowly rebuilding her life. >> susie has done a lot for me when i first got out, motivating me and keeping me busy on the things that i needed to get done. >> it is a real joy to be able to do the work of helping abby. >> i don't think these are going to last long. >> maybe just the night. susie's role in my life is a mother figure. >> i hope i'm the mom that she
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never had. i hope i can be that for her. >> reporter: abby says she struggles with guilt about her role in the robberies and misses her father and brother. but she says she needs to focus on the present. >> i have a whole new life. i've been very blessed. >> i think it looks great. awesome. >> from a family drama, at least one happy ending as abby has a home and full tuition for a year of junior college which she'll be starting next month. >> and that's 20/20 on christmas night. thanks for watching. >> and from all of us here at 20/20 have a merry christmas. the warriors unwrap lebron
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james and the cavaliers for christmas as golden state fans come from other parts of the world to see it happen. abc7 news begins in 60

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